03/26/2012 4:51PM

Son of Big Brown leads trio of $1 million buys at Fasig-Tipton Florida

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Fasig-Tipton’s Florida select 2-year-old sale became the first of the season to sell a $1 million horse, and it happened three times Monday at the Palm Meadows Training Center in Boynton Beach, Fla.

Freshman sire and 2008 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Big Brown took top billing when his son out of Cool Ghoul brought $1.3 million as the one-day sale’s most expensive horse. Coolmore Stud agent Demi O’Byrne bought the bay colt, a half-brother to New York stakes winner Dagnabit and to stakes-placed Bad Boy Rising. The colt had breezed a furlong in 10.2 seconds at the auction’s March 23 under-tack show.

The auction grossed $19,215,000 from the sale of 60 horses, a decline of 7 percent from last year, which featured a substantially larger catalog and sold 87 horses. But withdrawals also took a toll: from the original catalog of 167 juveniles (as compared with 240 last year), 84 went through the ring Monday. But average and median both gained this year. The $320,250 average was up 35 percent, and the $227,500 median was 14 percent higher.

Twenty-four horses failed to reach their reserves, for a buyback rate of 29 percent, down from last season’s 39 percent buyback rate.

Ciaran Dunne’s Wavertree agency consigned the Big Brown colt, who last went through the ring at Fasig-Tipton’s Saratoga yearling sale. There he sold to IEAH Stables for $220,000. IEAH also campaigned Big Brown, now a stallion at Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky.

The $1.3 million colt was by far the highest-priced horse from Dunne, who also sold a $400,000 Malibu Moon-Frio Town filly to Swifty Farms; a $350,000 Majestic Warrior-On a Lark colt to Fox Hill Farm; a $300,000 Indian Charlie-High in the Park colt to Mark Grier; a $175,000 Broken Vow-Rich Find filly to D. Wayne Lukas; and a $170,000 Empire Maker-Ship’s Cat colt to Dogwood Stables.

“That was fun. He was a wonderful horse,” Dunne said of the sale-topper after the auction. “He was a wonderful horse from the moment he got off the van at our farm.”

O’Byrne also bought a $175,000 colt by Coolmore sire Majestic Warrior out of stakes-placed Darling Monique from David Scanlon Training Center’s agency.

O’Byrne’s perennial rival, Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum’s Darley Stud representative John Ferguson, was in Dubai but bid through agent David Loder on the sale grounds. And he loomed large on the results sheet by late afternoon. Ferguson purchased four juveniles, including a $1.2 million Distorted Humor-Secret Thyme colt from Lynne Boutte’s agency. The chestnut colt is from the family of Grade 1 winner Forest Secrets and Grade 3 winner Rumor Has It; his dam is a three-quarters-sister to Forest Secrets and a half-sister to Rumor Has It.

The $1.2 million colt is by last year’s leading general sire, and he boosted his credentials when he worked a furlong in 10.2 seconds at the under-tack show.

Earlier in the session, the Stephens Thoroughbreds agency sold a $1 million Tapit-Liberty Flag colt to Nick Sallusto and Hanzly Albina, agents for Steven Marshall’s Black Rock Thoroughbreds. That colt had a 10.6-second work over an eighth of a mile at the under-tack preview.

But Ferguson was the dominant force at the top of the market. The Distorted Humor colt is by a WinStar Farm stallion, but, as expected, Ferguson frequently selected juveniles by Darley stallions. Those included a $875,000 colt by second-crop Darley sire Bernardini. The bay colt is out of Jolie Boutique, making him a half-brother to the Grade 3-placed stakes winner Future Storm and to stakes-placed Merrill Gold. Hartley/De Renzo Thoroughbreds consigned the Bernardini colt. They paid $325,000 for him at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select sale.

Darley’s Fasig-Tipton Florida buys also included an $800,000 colt by another Darley second-crop sire, Hard Spun. Consigned by Eddie Woods, agent, the dark bay or brown Hard Spun colt is out of Lucky Lavender Gal, a Grade 1-placed stakes winner by Carson City; she’s also a full sister to 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro’s dam, La Ville Rouge. The colt is a half-brother to stakes winner Lavender Lass and to Grade 3-placed Lavender’s Lad.

Darley also picked up a $725,000 colt by Spendthrift stallion sire Malibu Moon that Pike Racing, agent, offered. That bay colt stepped into the ring immediately after the $1.2 million Distorted Humor colt. He is out of the Seeking the Gold winner Seek to Soar, a daughter of champion grass mare and Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf winner Soaring Softly.

Also selling above the $800,000 mark was an $825,000 Street Boss colt that agent Steven Young bought from the Eddie Woods agency. The bay son of Varnish is a half-brother to multiple graded-placed Swingforthefences.

The Fasig-Tipton sale took place later in the month this year and was the third major select juvenile auction of the 2012 season, following Barretts March in California and the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s March sale in central Florida. Both of those sales also posted gains in average and median.